Moog Theremini Owners

Posted: 10/23/2014 9:44:46 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

"I think that what the "serious players" should own up to here is that when they make these blanket statements like "unplayable", "unusable linearity", "can only make drone sounds", can't be used by synthesists", what they are REALLY saying is "BY ME", and quit trying to include the rest of us in their inability or unwillingness to come to grips with what is essentially a very cool new instrument."  - Synthguy

When the likes of Thomas Grillo and Peter Pringle say it is difficult to play, you have to sit up and take notice a little bit.

"The editor does use all of the CC links that have been available since the instrument was launched, but I'll bet that not many people here or elsewhere have bothered (or were able) to whip up a simple platform to make their own edited presets (I did, but I love that kinda stuff). The editor now makes it easy for everyone, as well as providing a librarian, a bunch of new free presets, and the ability to share them between like minded individuals. Sweet!"

To me the editor reveals the strong possibility that what you see (in the manual) is all you're gonna get in the way of synthesis.  That's kind of a let down for me.  The Animoog app totally puts it to shame:

"I myself kinda liked that guys performance...can you post one of you doing a better job on what you deem to be a "real" Theremin?"

I've never perpetrated myself as a Theremin player, in fact I go out of my way to state that over and over.  But I'm a lay musician, and that video hurt my ears.

"Glad you like my review at Amazon, I'd be happy to repost it here if you think that would be touches on a lot of what is not being discussed here, I think."

Oh, why not, you stuck it on every Theremini product page over there, what's one more gushing, glowing review on the web?  Like drops of water on the ocean.

"And no, I don't work for Moog, if that's what you're hinting at (wouldn't that be nice!), I'm just a guy who loves synths... A Synthguy!"

Trust me, you're a natural, and you're wasting your talents if you aren't being compensated somehow.


So what is the Theremini?  Honestly?  It's two low voltage capacitance sensors with some interesting processing going on that finally gives direct control over sensitivity, as well as rudimentary pitch correction.  Other than the low voltage that's great.  These sensor are, however, connected in a low bandwidth way to a synth that is only marginally OK if you don't look at Moog's own iPad apps.  It can be used for special effects and control of soft synths if you aren't too demanding in the gesture department.  Mostly it's a turnkey solution you can plop on your coffee table and have a great geeky conversation piece.

I think it's biggest fail is the lack of fine tuning post calibration.  Every Theremin that isn't a $10 two transistor toy in a plastic Russian doll housing has some way to easily trim this because it is so vital to serious play and profoundly impacts linearity (even on the Theremini).  I mean, what were they thinking?

Posted: 10/23/2014 11:05:12 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

That Animoog app looks awesome and musically useful and playable..

If my sums are right, you could get a compatible iphone or ipad or itouch and the app for less than the price of a theremini..

WTF ??!!

Why put that great engine into a nasty toy with an unplayable latency? Seems to me that the animoog app has a far easier playing interface, far more synthesis and editing, can churn out astounding soundscapes AND be played as a lead instrument..

In fact, the theremini has butchered the Animoog in a similar manner to the way its butchered the theremin!

Why arent the "Synth guys" jumping about shouting "the theremini is crap - we want a REAL Animoog!! "

Reason is probably simple -

The theremini is targeting stupid theremin "wanna-be"s and targeting stupid synthesis "wanna-be"s..

And the majority of the population has been dumbed down and hypnotized by marketing hype, and are, by every definition, inclined to stupidity... Then there is the lemming factor - follow each other to the store to buy the latest "cool" crap.

Now where did I put those Minus-IQ pills I was keeping for a day like this...


Posted: 10/23/2014 11:38:47 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014

This thread was started by people who wanted some positive feedback to help them on their way with their new Thereminis. I at least tried my best there, I hope. 

What everyone forgets is that there's what, 20 or so professional thereminists in the world (maybe 10 really, truly great ones) and thousands of amateurs that will never get to that level, or desire to get there - but just want to have fun and be creative with the instrument. 

It's a fallacy that you can't make interesting music (rather easily in fact) with the Theremini. And to do nothing but bash the Theremini in a thread asking for positive feedback does not put TW in the best light in IMHO.

I wish this thread could have turned out differently. 


Posted: 10/24/2014 12:11:20 AM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

... If the Theremini made toasts, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. I could play with it while waiting for my toasts to pop up :)

Seriously though, I will never buy one, but if it is good enough for someone to spark the imagination, that is fine. But I could probably not use it for the kind of thing/playing I do.

Posted: 10/24/2014 1:05:32 AM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007


I respect your genuine interest in theremins and side interest in the musical potential of the theremini, and I do understand your wish that this thread could have gone a different route..

But that route was never IMO the originators intent - The originator first appeared on TW with the intent of mocking this community's focus - he had no interest in engaging in discussion, was simply interested in calling us names and endorsing the theremini.

What do you say to someone who posts something like Gary did in his first post here? Do you pretend that what they are doing is useful or 'real' or that they can actually play the theremini the way he wanted, as a theremin ? - Does the desire for a "thread asking for positive feedback" mean that one isn't allowed to give honest advice on the matter Gary raised, because the truth could not be "positive" in the way that the threads mandate dictated?

Which would "put TW in the best light" - us being open and honest, or us being dishonestly compliant ?

This thread could have been left for "positive feedback only" if it had been allowed to become entirely false and therefore utterly useless (except to those promoting the theremini as something it is not).. It is my opinion that the most "positive feedback" is often the most critical feedback - And that sometimes "critical" is mistaken for negative.

As for the "20 or so professional thereminists in the world" - Its not that the theremini is only unsuitable for them.. The theremini is absolutely useless for anyone who wants to play the theremin or learn to play a theremin! The theremini is, in fact, the anti-theremin! IMO the theremini is the first real threat to the survival of the theremin as a musical instrument that has appeared since it was invented, or certainly since Bob Moog revived the instrument and brought it back to popularity.

In terms of musical uses of the theremini as other than a theremin, this is really a different matter - a matter probably better explored in a different environment than TW IMO.  TW is primarily about theremins, the theremini is not a theremin, its a severely cobbled version of the Animoog synth packaged in a restrictive housing with intolerable latency that makes it nearly useless for anything.

The theremini has a multitude of sites that laud it, dozens of users discuss their explorations, and there are no problems of confusion - these people dont know a theremin from a baseball bat, and are happy with what they have - If they had mastered the theremin even to a rudimentary level and been bitten by the theremin bug, they probably wouldnt be happy with their toy.. If they had Animoog on a tablet they probably wouldnt be happy with their toy.. But who knows (and who cares).

So many promoters of the theremini - One major site on the whole WWW that caters for THEREMIN discussion .. I think that someone like you who has earnest interest in theremins and actually plays a theremin is a different class to the masses who have never played a theremin but now own a theremini..

And I think there is a great risk if TW doesnt actually "defend" the theremin from those who (unwittingly) think they are playing a theremin when in fact they arent, and those who are deliberately invading every site and forum for the purposes of marketing and promoting the anti-theremin.


I have only one hope for the future regarding the theremin - This hope is dependent on Moog inc - IF they can be shamed into seeing what they are doing, and if this shame causes them to correct the fatal flaw in the theremini (even if the entire thing needs a redesign and re-build) and produce a theremini which can give people the feel and performance of a real theremin, and if they do this quickly, then the situation could be saved.

The importance of Moog cannot be understated - They have always (in Bob's days) set the high bar - the standard which engineers struggled to reach, let alone exceed .. I have (at all the times I worked in electronic musical instrument design and development) found that whatever I did, whatever the company I was working for was developing, Bob would be there with something superior - sometimes bringing it to market just months or even weeks before out launch. It was often highly frustrating - but also highly motivating (until the company went under because it was caught in a pincer between Moog's quality and the Japanese prices)

This is the first time I can remember that anything from Moog was so trash that it wasnt even a bar on a rack - its down on the ground in the dirt.. But completely dishonest marketing is "making up for" the lack of engineering... The lack of Bob.


Posted: 10/24/2014 3:36:51 AM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

"I wish this thread could have turned out differently."  - rkram53

I wish the Theremini could have turned out differently.

Posted: 10/24/2014 11:37:34 AM
Jesper Pedersen

From: Iceland

Joined: 3/10/2012

I just tried the new editor that Moog released in the i-store. Previously I've been researching the Theremini using an editor that I made with Lemur so there's really no surprises when it comes to the implementation in the new editor. The editor is nicely made and works like it should. With an editor like this available the Theremini certainly becomes a more powerful (and more complete) instrument. Thanks Moog +++ :)

Flicking through the new presets the limitations (as well as strong points) of the sound engine becomes very obvious. They are basically nothing but variations of the stock presets but given other names. Many of the new presets uses small delay times and high feedback to create a highly resonant comb filter effect as a way to create "new" sounds. Unfortunately many of these presets are useless because the sound designer didn't get the feedback level and delay amount right. This results in overload, distortion and/or endless ringing resonance. Out of the 35 new sounds 7 needs to be reprogrammed in order to be distortion free and/or musically useful:

  • 12 Harmonic JBL2
  • 19 Ringing Room
  • 22 Gypsy Doctor
  • 25 Elephant Talk
  • 29 Go Very Slow
  • 34 Alilegipsheen
  • 35 Spinkeljynx

Sadly it seems these presets were sent out prematurely without thorough review just like the Theremini itself. 

Posted: 10/24/2014 12:39:38 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

Just answer the points I made to your first posting on TW.

If you can answer those with something more intelligent than "pish posh" then discussion is possible  - But the surest way to "suck the life out of the discussion" is to make accusations and then not respond when these accusations are challenged.

Instead you waited, and came back to start another thread - A thread in which YOU set the "parameters" within which discussion would be allowed.

That is not discussion - thats INDOCTRINATION!

Nothing I said in my first post on this thread was "negative" - It was simply statement of fact! I never said that the theremini could not be used musically - all I said was that it COULD NOT BE PLAYED LIKE A THEREMIN !

- But this is what it all hangs on, isnt it ?  Why should such a statement invoke howls of outrage and calls for my post to be "cleaned up" if the REAL intent of this thread was to explore musical application of the theremini ?

I have acknowledged that it has musical uses.. But you and theremini promoters aren't happy with this - you want the theremini to be acknowledged as a theremin..

The theremini is to a theremin what a tortoise is to a race horse.. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME ANIMAL !!!



I repeat my "offensive" statement from my first post in this thread - highlighted to emphasize the context:

if you want a theremin that you can play as a theremin, (then) send your theremini back and get a Moog EW or EW+.. See There is no software update that will turn the theremini into a theremin! - not now, not ever!

Posted: 10/24/2014 1:30:27 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

Fred : "I have acknowledged that it has musical uses.. But you and theremini promoters arent happy with this - you want the theremini to be acknowledged as a theremin.."

SapereAude : "Voila!  Thanks for making my point for me."

Bob Moog could not (and would not) have declared that the theremini was a theremin - He could not have done so (even if he had wanted to) without eating every word he ever said about what a theremin was.

So why should we here at TW who know what a theremin is, lie and tell people that their toys are theremins? - To keep the masses happy and attract them to TW? To keep Moog Inc happy? Because, if we dont, TW will be starved of sponsorship and will be bullied into complying with the Moog scam or it will be forced out of existence?

For me, there is no problem at all with others exploring the things musical potential - and no problem with people doing that here on TW.(although, for reasons I have given before, I think TW is probably not the best venue for this) 

For me the problem comes when someone wants to play their toy like a theremin but we are barred (or stirr up a tirade of hostility)  from telling them that they cant, because its not a theremin!



Posted: 10/24/2014 2:57:26 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

I understand the desire to have a thread where Theremini owners can speak openly about the more positive and useful aspects of the instrument, and I feel kind of bad about going negative on it, but my reason for doing so was Synthguy's troll baiting.  He basically called us idiots for seeing more than just the sparkle pony side of the Theremini, and liars for daring to speak about it. 

While I'm on that subject, I also want take issue with the Keyboard mag review Synthguy pointed to ( where the author states "Like many curious keyboardists, though, I play theremin cringingly badly and have never been able to justify the time investment in getting good."  WTF?  Why send a musical instrument to a reviewer who doesn't even play the thing in the first place?  He claims to have gotten a lot better with the acquisition of the Theremini, but whatever.  Why is every random gear geek suddenly 100% qualified to review a Theremin?

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